You know you are welcome in a house when the host opens the door with a big smile. That is exactly what happened when I went to Bollywood star Neha Dhupia’s flat in Bandra. “I always open the door for my guests. It brings in positive energy,” says Dhupia. She offers me green tea and promises to be back soon. And that’s just what I need, complete access to her two-bedroom Bandra apartment all by myself.
The first thing that one notices about Dhupia’s house is how minimalist everything is. There are no jarring colours, no over-the-top decoration, no pictures of her staring at you from every corner of the room. It’s clean, simple and airy. “When Ninad (Pardesi) was designing the house, he told me that he was going to create a space for me that I would never want to leave. And ever since I moved in here, everything is still the same – the décor, the minimalism, the illusion of space and the colours,” says Dhupia, who has been living in this fourth floor apartment for the last seven years.
Life In a happy space
When she bought this flat, it came in its skeleton form – absolutely stripped bare with no furnishings whatsoever, but Dhupia knew that she needed a space of her own that she could use and abuse. “Having your own space in a city like Mumbai gives you such a sense of security, especially if you’re a single girl. When I bought this house, I knew that I had found a footing here,” she remembers. “And even today, my home is my Zen temple.”
Dhupia loves her French windows and ends up spending a lot of time sitting there, surrounded by her cushions, reading. And really, if you had an extended ledge that beautiful, overlooking the old-world tiled roofs of Bandra, you would also spend most of your time there. “From up here, I get a feeling of then and now. These trees resting their weight on the roofs down below give me a glimpse of yesterday and I love that feeling. This ledge has seen many nights of reading, pondering and relaxing.”
Elegant and serene
One thing that caught me off guard about Dhupia’s pad was the silence, even though she lives two lanes away from Mehboob Studios, one of the most bustling landmarks of Bandra. “I like the quiet this house offers,” she says. “It really feels like living in a treehouse. You’ll notice that from every window and balcony, you can see only trees.”
Dhupia tries to ensure everything in her house is natural and earthy. Her flooring is simple unpolished stone, there are limestone artefacts, soft wooden panelling, stone Buddha statues, fresh flowers, and hay-like texturing on the walls. And when she can’t play with earthy textures, she prefers muted tones with a burst of colour peppered here and there. “I am obsessed with white. Not just white, but shades of white. My walls are a certain shade of white and so are my linens. If you look at the sofa arrangement, even that is done in simple beige. All I do is throw in some colourful cushions to create contrast,” says Dhupia. “I love flowers. I love how they liven up a place the moment you throw them in a vase. It’s a great way to add natural colour to your living space.”
Another prominent feature in Dhupia’s home is her collection of books. They are strewn around the house, some resting on her
centre table (mainly coffee table tomes on fashion and travel), some stacked next to her bed, others hanging on for dear life on shelves and some staring into nothingness from her window ledge. “I love sitting curled up with coffee table books,” says Dhupia. “But they have to be everywhere in the house so I can just lounge around and read whenever and wherever. That’s why my books are all over the place.”
It may not be a mansion, but the sparse furniture and earthy tones create an illusion of space. And Dhupia’s balcony abutting the living room adds to the effect. A white beach chair, a small coffee table and a wind chime that sings in the breeze. Is that where she finds nirvana? “No. Actually it’s my dresser and bathroom – I spend 10 minutes lounging in my massage chair after work. It relaxes me,” she says. “But your entire house should be your shortcut to nirvana. Not just one room.”
There are so many single women living on their own in different cities but how is Neha Dhupia’s house different from other girls? Here’s what she said...
“Even if you barely know me, the moment you enter my space, you will know it’s my house. It is just like me – calm and uncluttered. I believe positive vibes bring in positive vibes and my house is all about positivity and harmony. I have these beautiful Buddha statues in my living room that either light up or I light a candle around it. They make the whole environment so serene.
“Candles add character to your home. In the evening, you can light some around the house and read a book in a corner. Your house should reflect your personality. There is no point in creating a space that looks chic in every inch but doesn’t really reflect who you are.”
Liven Up Your Living Space
Do you live in a tiny apartment and don’t have the money to spend on getting a top interior designer to space manage for you? Fret not. We asked Neha Dhupia to help us and here are her top five tips to liven up your space without spending a bomb.
Mirchi Lights: Apt lighting can do wonders for a house. Just throw some mirchi lights (Rs 200 for a string) in a bowl or wrap around a window. It not only creates a beautiful ambience, it also creates an illusion of space.Colour It Wild: If you live in a tiny apartment with monochromes all around you, then add a splash of colour to your living space. You can go for kitschy cushion covers that occupy little space but cheer up your room.
Let It Breathe: Air out your house. Most people keep their windows shut all the time and inhale the same old stale air for days. Just open all your windows and you’ll notice how fresh and lively your home will feel.
Unleash Flower Power: Throw out the plastic flowers. Buy some fresh ones and arrange them across the house. Their scent and beauty will definitely add verve to your apartment.
Turn It On: When everything else fails, you can always rely on music. Play it in the house or plug in your iPod.
OCD? You don’t say!
“Very few things in my house actually have legs. Things are either fixed to the floor or suspended from the ceiling. I don’t like the idea of furniture having legs. I am also very very particular about my bedspread. I only like a specific shade of white and only that linen is spread on my bed. Another thing I fret about a lot is cleanliness and putting things back in order. I have a very nasty habit of cleaning up in the middle of a party or a conversation. If something is out of place, I can’t stop looking at it. My friends hate me for that!”
"What I really like about this clock is how it breaks the monotony of the room. It is so out of place and yet so beautiful. It’s a lovely juxtaposition of the clean lines of my furniture with this voluptuous clock"
The Lit Buddha
"There are many Buddha statues in my house but this one is my favourite because it’s carved inwards and lights up. It creates beautiful silhouettes on the wall"
From HT Brunch, September 16
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